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First swarm catch gone wrong

Thanks Jeff,

Good to know as you dont hear much post swarm catch what to expect. i will transfer some open brood into it and a frame of honey to help them along. it was a last minute scramble which is why i only had the half frames.


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The frame of open brood will tell you what’s going on after about 4 days. After 4 days, just inspect that frame of brood. If the swarm has a mated queen, you’ll start seeing new eggs on that frame. If the swarm is queenless, you’ll see emergency queen cells. If the queen is a virgin, you’ll see no eggs or emergency queen cells.


I think she is a very nice looking queen. Not that small at all! :blush:

I agree with @JeffH, it usually takes at least a few days, assuming she is a mated queen. There are other factors to think about too though.

  1. If you are using foundationless frames, they will have to draw out enough comb for her to lay in.
  2. They may not let her lay for a while if they have nothing to feed the larvae. Larvae need bee bread, which means they need to have some pollen and honey stored.

Giving them a frame of brood is a brilliant idea, if you have a hive that can spare one. I would also give them a frame of honey and pollen if you have it, then they will let her lay sooner. Personally I used to house swarms on drawn comb, if I had it. Less work for the bees to get going then. I don’t catch swarms any more though, as most around here are africanized. :hushed:


So i took Jeff’s advice and swapped out a couple of frames to help them along.

I gave them a full frame of honey half capped and half almost ready to be capped so they have plenty of food. i also swapped out a frame and gave them a full frame of eggs and young larvae with pollen in the frame for them to use.

So the frames i pulled out one was empty half frame of drawn comb nothing in the cells. the other half frame of drawn comb actually had eggs and small larvae so i clearly didnt look that hard. although i thought this was very interesting! (see photos below) as soon as i saw this i decided to pull this frame. now is there a chance the queen did this or a worker did it? i thought maybe she misfired a couple a times? i would love to know your opinions on this.

Hard to see is some photos. 1 egg laid ontop of a capped honey cell and some cells had 2 or 3 eggs in it. the rest look pretty good and dead centre so I’m hoping it was a couple of misfires.

o well if the workers arent happy im sure they will replace her. time will tell. we will give them a month before the next inspection now.


A cell with more than one egg in it is a good indicator of a laying worker in the hive John. An egg laid on the top of a capped cells, I haven’t seen that happen before. :thinking: It is common for a queen not to lay in every cell of a frame and miss a few cells in an arch.

Thats what i thought but then i also remember hearing that they lay on the wall and not down the bottom if its a worker? all the duplicates are on the bottom of the cell so thats why I’m thinking maybe she is a fresh queen from a secondary swarm which needs practice? :joy: the one on the capped but of honey was a surprise. i guess it was half empty and capped so she though it was a normal cell maybe?

anyways i will reassess in a month. that way i can really see what’s going on.

Actually looks more like pollen stores and was on the side but i may have dislodged it. from memory it was closer to the middle.


Lovely queen and photos. I reckon misfires. It’s her first gig as the queen, give her a chance :joy:

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I think you and @fffffred are right. Most queens are a bit “clumsy” when they start out. Multiple eggs slightly misplaced are common for a week or so, then they get it right. Professional queen breeders will tell you this, and it is why many of them keep the queens they have mated for a week or two before before selling them. That way customers don’t complain about dud queens! :rofl:

I think a laying worker is unlikely in a “small” hive. I have seen them occasionally with a queen when the hive has multiple supers. However, you have a nice queen there, and laying workers would have likely “balled” her by now, as they think that they are the ruling queen! With a little patience, I think you will find that those eggs turn into workers. If not, then perhaps @Peter48 was right after all. I would be surprised though, as some of the eggs are quite nicely placed.

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I was thinking a laying worker going on the fact of two or three eggs in some of the cells, but as you and @fffffred say she could be learning her job and having a drop of wine on the side… :wine_glass:
I definately saw the queen on the top bar of the frame in one of the pics and she looks right.

Hi John, I wouldn’t wait a month. I would look in about 9 days time to see how the cappings turns out. You’ll know then whether you have a good or bad queen or a laying worker. That takes all the guesswork & speculation out of it.

If it is a laying worker (which I doubt), the quicker you act, the better.

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Thankyou all for the comments. So amazing to keep learning in every turn of beekeeping.

@Dawn_SD i actually remember looking at queens to buy in the future and the breeder says they make sure she lays a whole frame before shipping so you can see her pattern etc so that makes sense.

I might try and get to them within a few weeks then to see how they are going but with a bub due in 6 days i might be a bit pressed to go and inspect to see how she is going any sooner than a few weeks.

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Did my first swarm capture on Sunday. I’d rehearsed and rehearsed and it all went well. The large swarm (size of small football) was hanging on a low branch of a neighhour’s bush. I suited up and, armed with a prepared cardboard box with tape tabs ready to pat down, and some secateurs, I went next door and did the deed. Easy! It felt like I’d been doing for years. I was pretty nervous. Lopped off the small branch and gently laid the swarm in the cardboard box, then taped it shut. I carried it home and set it down next to a new flow hive I’d been preparing. I removed about 6 frames, and tipped the captured bees inside, and let them settle for a bit. Then carefully replaced the empty frames. There were a few small clumps of bees on the ground and still in the cardboard box, but they eventually made there way to their new home.
Later that afternoon, I observed many bees coming and going at the entrance to the hive, but there were - and still are 3 days later - a heap of bees hanging on to the front of the hive (like bearding before a swarm). There are still some bees coming and going to the hive (inside) but there remains this mini-swarm hanging on the outside. Listening carefully there is a lot of activity inside the hive. I am assuming that, the bees inside are busy making comb etc., and until that happens there isn’t enough room inside for those outside? Can someone advise? Have I done something wrong? The bees outside aren’t rocking or anything and seem OK, although they are alert. Any advice appreciated by this newbie. Thanks! - Milton


Sounds like a good job, Milton. As long as they’re building comb and there’s pollen and nectar coming in they’re intending to stay. It wouldn’t hurt to feed them 1:1 sugar water to boost their comb building. Best not to disturb them for a couple of weeks so the queen settles into laying. I wouldn’t worry about the cluster outside for now. See if they move in over time. The main thing is to have the queen laying.

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Sounds like a success to me as well, very nice! I only note this detail to make the recommendation to try to avoid removing a nice low branch a swarm settles on, since it can become an attractive place for future swarms to settle on. Makes your job much easier!

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Thank you Aussiemike - very reassuring! This is my first swarm catch, so I’m learning fast. Checked the hive just now and the bees don’t seem at all agitated. Thanks for the advice.

Thanks Eva! I shall remember that! Hopefully, I’ll collect from the same place again.

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